Natural stones for monuments: their availability for restoration and evaluation
This paper represents the introduction to the volume focused on the various aspects of natural stone research. From the topic issues studied recently, four major aspects are covered: (1) availability of certain stone types for monuments, (2) strategies aiming to strengthen our knowledge of past resources through the establishment of natural stone databases and inventories, (3) evaluation of natural stone properties and assessment of the compatibility of repair stones, and (4) decay studies of natural stone on monuments and on natural exposures. This paper also aims to highlight the importance of the use of local stone resources, a practice that has seriously declined during the 20th century in most of the industrialized countries. The availability of natural stone from monuments is also discussed in terms of sandstones and travertine in the Czech Republic and Hungary as a typical example.
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Natural stone is considered to be a versatile, durable and aesthetically pleasing building material. From the beginning of civilization, important structures and monuments have been built from, or based on, natural stone. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the use of local stone resources was mostly in balance with the local environment. Strict environmental legislation has resulted in the closing of many long-standing quarries in industrialized countries, which has led to a shortage of traditional stone varieties. This has caused problems for restoration practice. Cheap, imported stone from less industrialized countries has become more widely available in recent years.
Some of the issues related to built stone conservation and restoration covered by this volume are: the establishment of inventories of possible replacement stones; understanding the decay mechanism and use of preventive conservation methods for slowing down decay processes; evaluation of the properties of natural stone; and assessing the risks of using replacement stones of different qualities.